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Comms Copy Tips: 7 Steps To Smashing Your Copy

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Comms Copy Tips: 7 Steps To Smashing Your Copy

Smart advice and tips for crafting better comms copy.

1. Begin with a powerful opening line

Draw them in. Every word you write should be designed to entice your reader to move on to the next. Never is this more vital than with your opener. So spend more time than you think you should on it. Keep it super brief – one line ideally. Give the impression that what’s to come is easy to digest, offering your reader a nice easy start.

CHECK IT: Reread your intro line, over and over again. Is it too long? Is it weak, fluffy, boring? Delete it! Keep going until you’ve crafted a deliciously enticing opener.

2. Get to the point

Your audience hasn’t time to read extended intros and surplus waffle. Keep your content logical. Don’t leave them trawling through, searching for the point you’ve hidden in a haystack. Chances are, they won’t. When communicating key facts, important news, or essential updates don’t drag your heels. Get on with it.

CHECK IT: Have you preceded your point with unnecessary nonsense? If so, cut it out and dive straight in.

3. Stick to short words and sentences

No sentence should exceed 25 words – most should be well under this. Keep paragraphs to 3 or 4 sentences. 3 commas in 1 sentence is 1 too many. If you’re in any doubt, run it through an online tool like The Gunning Fog Index or The Hemingway App. Tools like these measure the readability of your writing by assessing things like the number of long words or sentences. They can also estimate the years of formal education needed to grasp the text upon a first read.

CHECK IT: Unless your content is for a specific audience who’ll understand the heavy ins and outs, cut back on complex words and long sentences. Don’t say it in twenty words when five will do.

4. Dump the jargon

This isn’t an opportunity to show off your impressive vocabulary or your incredible grasp of the English language. Think simplicity, accuracy and brevity. Cut the corporate guff because the simpler you can make it, the better your copy will be.

CHECK IT: Scan for industry buzzwords or lengthy, complex terms and replace them with simpler alternatives. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

5. Steer clear of short and useless

As a general guide, a standard news story should be around 300 words. Feature articles and more in-depth posts should remain under about 800 words unless there’s a good reason for them to be longer. However, don’t obsess over the numbers. A short article that only skirts round the facts or dips a toe into the water won’t wash.

CHECK IT: Have you sufficiently covered the facts? Is your article fit for purpose, doing the job for which it was intended? Forget the word count momentarily and make sure you’ve covered the subject.

6. Break it up

Every day I come across articles presented as a series of one long paragraph after another. It’s so off-putting, and unless I’ve a seriously good reason for reading, I simply choose not to.

Segment your text. Use bullets instead of laboriously long lists. Keep your content engaging and feature key facts or interesting intros in subheadings. Pull out captions that will draw the eye and be remembered. Make the experience as effortless as possible.

CHECK IT: Does you article actually look appealing? If you think it looks like a tough read, chances are your audience will too. Break up long sections with one-liners, subheadings and bullet points.

7. Proofread

Other than employing a second pair of eyes to check over your copy for you, I find the most effective way to proofread an article is to read it out loud. You’ll soon spot any errors, emissions or silly mistakes. Then edit, edit, edit! Be unbelievably brutal. Review the points above and use them as a checklist to make your copy the best it can be.

CHECK IT: If in doubt, cross it out. It’s a surprisingly liberating feeling when you take a determined approach and slash through your work, leaving it shorter, simpler and sharper.

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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